Mexico is a religious nation without being a theocracy. But it is still a nation where Catholicism plays a political role – locally, over many issues related to the poor and women.
But a few weeks ago, front-running presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador upped this religious influence to a national level. He pledged to seek for all Mexicans “not only material well-being, but the well-being of the soul” if elected in July.
Lopez Obrador, a leftist, even christened his new party with the acronym Morena – also a name for the popular national patroness of Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Religious symbols are like sports symbols. They convey a distinction that is often also a statement of insiderness, exclusivity and superiority. When you join a gang, all of this happens automatically as soon as you have the relevant predator tattooed on your chest.
Christian nationalism is advancing its agenda in the United States, too. A coalition of Christian-right groups have organized a major legislative initiative called “Project Blitz.” Its goal is to pass a package of “Christian-right bills” at the state level, fusing Christian and American identities. And drawing on the current Scandals R Us administration for support.
This is worrying. Because as comforting as they are for many, religious denominations have come up with some of the worst ideas in human history, troublesome ideas that have wormed their way into politics universally: chosen people (always thought these were white males), infidels (not trustworthy – their headgear is not like mine), holy wars (my God can kick your God’s butt), karma (you’re now a mall cop because you screwed up last time), body mutilations (God giveth, God can taketh away) and the unquestioned iron-age thinking fixed into unalterable eternal truths. (Religious beliefs when added to the dissonance of politics can create unmanageable divisiveness, intolerance, ignorance and even violence.)